Blog readers with a subscription to the Times newspaper online site might like to read a recent article by Jack Malvern on the possible link between a sketch by Sassoon in one of his war journals and the poem Died of Wounds:
The journal to which the article refers (classmark MS Add. 9852/1/7) covers a period in mid 1916 when Sassoon was recovering from enteritis or ‘trench fever ‘. It is among the items that will be on show as part of the ‘Dream Voices’ exhibition which opens this Wednesday, and will be displayed showing his observations of events on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The illustration in the banner at the head of this blog is a detail taken from a tag given to Siegfried Sassoon for his voyage from France to Southampton aboard the Aberdonian on 1-2 August 1916.
Sassoon had gone down with enteritis on 23 July, while his battalion was temporarily withdrawn from the front line of the Battle of the Somme. His case was severe enough to have him despatched to the 1st New Zealand Stationary Hospital in Amiens (the scene of his poem ‘Died of Wounds’), and from there to the No. 2 Red Cross Hospital in Rouen. In the Memoirs of an Infantry Officer Sassoon (in the character of his alter ego George Sherston) recorded how, at the Rouen hospital, a doctor had spotted his name in a list of officers recently awarded the Military Cross, and that this lucky chance had ‘wangled’ him his evacuation back to England — thereby saving him from the hazards of further involvement in the Somme campaign.
The tag was discovered folded in a pocket inside the cover of Sassoon’s diary for the period.